December 8: Obama, Obama

Netanyahu knows that if US President Obama is re-elected, pressure for Israeli concessions will increase.

Obama, Obama Sir, – Our prime minister initiated a Likud leadership race that has been brought well forward to January 31 (“Netanyahu decides against general election,” December 6).
Contrary to Gil Hoffman, who on the same page says “Whenever you wonder why Netanyahu is doing something, the safest bet is to offer three reasons: Iran, Iran and Iran” (“Looking into Netanyahu’s mind,” Analysis), I think the safer bet is to listen to what the PM wants, as you reported in “Netanyahu: Dilute power of Likudniks in settlements” (November 29).
The prime minister is rightly concerned that Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria will use the central committee to put obstacles before his future diplomatic moves because these are the people who voted him into office on a platform espousing exactly the opposite of what he is doing. Netanyahu knows that if US President Barack Obama is re-elected, the pressure on Israel to make concessions will increase to the extent that he, as he has on other occasions, will just fold.
He does not need or want a strong right-wing presence as his conscience.
Sir, – After the Obama administration has expressed its unabashed and uncalled-for anger with Jews and Israel (“Scary US views,” Editorial, December 6), I would like to hear from the Democratic Party’s representative in Israel.
He or she should tell us why US expatriates should vote for the incumbent.
Sir, – The Obama administration obviously believes the defection of Jewish voters has bottomed out, and now, having reached the hard-core who will vote for the president regardless of his actions vis-a-vis Israel, it can lash out at Israel without risking any more Jewish votes.
Sir, – Caroline B. Glick (“An ally no more,” Our World, December 6) grossly exaggerates the present difficulties in the US alliance with Israel.
Glick bases her extreme conclusions on a few speeches by various Obama administration representatives, speeches that were deeply and unfairly critical of Israeli society and Israeli government policies.
The truth is that the American alliance with and support for Israel are both intact and very strong.
At the United Nations, America’s representative has been unflagging in her defense of Israeli interests, often in the face of bitter international criticism.
The American government remains Israel’s most reliable defense supplier and supporter, and the American public is morally and financially strongly supportive of the Jewish state. Furthermore, Israel enjoys enthusiastic wall-to-wall support from Congress.
Thus, while Glick may be correct in her assessment that Obama is “an ally no more” (not that he ever was), it does not mean that the US is not our strongest and best ally.
Flabbergasted Sir, – I am seldom at a loss for words, but when Shmuley Boteach calls for the country’s next chief rabbi to distance himself from the establishment and be a thorn in its side (“‘Jobs’ description for next British chief rabbi,” No Holds Barred, December 6), I am left flabbergasted.
Boteach must be aware that Moses was Israel’s highest authority on Halacha and not its first chief rabbi. His brother, Aaron, got that post, as the job description called for ambassadorial eloquence and not overt activism.
And Britain is not choosing the next rebbe of a minor hassidic dynasty. Its chief rabbi, serving the community as a whole, is elected by a board of lay members, and rabbis have no place on such a committee.
Outside interference, coupled with sensationalist shooting-off at the mouth, is uncalled for in this case.
Sir, – Unlike Shmuley Boteach, I think Britain’s chief rabbi should be a chief rabbi and educator, not just a social worker.
NITA WEISZ Jerusalem
Hysterical reaction
Sir, – David Newman (“An academic lynching,” Comment & Features, December 6) may be right: The the people who leaked the report by the Council for Higher Education (CHE) on the functioning of the Politics and Government Department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) may have a political agenda. However, this in no way lessens the devastating criticisms contained in the report – that the department is biased, its academic standards are dismally low and its publication record meager.
Newman’s hysterical reaction shows that he is incapable of understanding, much less accepting, the findings of the CHE report. This would not matter too much if the criticisms were limited to that specific department. However, BGU allowed the situation to develop and must therefore share some of the blame.
Inevitably, the academic standing and reputation of BGU has been tainted. The only solution now is for the university president, Rivka Carmi, to fully implement the findings of the CHE report and, if necessary, dismiss the lecturers involved.
Mazkeret Batya
Which witch?
Sir, – I find great difficulty in understanding statements by Jeff Barak in his latest attack on the Likud and its leader (“Stop the anti-Left witch hunt,” Reality Check, December 5).
Barak details the recent proposal of a bill that would prohibit funding from foreign governments of NGOs that deny Israel’s right to exist, incite racism, support armed resistance against us, support putting Israeli officials on trial in international courts, call for insubordination in the army and support boycotts against Israel. By his criticism of the bill, does he imply that such actions are acceptable to the Left and that the bill indeed constitutes a witch hunt? MONTY M. ZION Tel Mond Sir, – The hysterical campaign against the present bills relating to NGOs that receive money from foreign governments and reforming the method for the appointment of Supreme Court justices only goes to show that the Netanyahu government is doing something right.
The fact is, no other democratic country that has regular elections with the peaceful transfer of power from one party to another would tolerate interference by foreign governments in the way it governs itself.
Beit Shemesh
Sir, – Reporting on UK government funding to NGOs in Israel has generally left unclear the fact that these funds uniquely come directly from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Foreign Ministry) rather than the Department of International Development, which is the normal channel for the provision of financial aid.
The UK has publicly admitted (in the House of Commons on September 6, 2010) that funding to Israeli NGOs is provided for several reasons, including to influence the nature and quality of public policy debate and ultimately Israeli policy in line with political options for a sustainable two-state solution; to record, highlight and challenge settlement expansion activities through legal action, public advocacy and dialogue with Israeli officials; and to ensure that due legal process is adhered to.
Were boot on the other foot, no doubt there would be a hue and cry from the UK government, opposition and media.